Snapchat and an 11-year-old Hero

Social Media has it’s pros and it’s cons. There are die-hard fans who love to connect and share with people online and there are harsh critics who believe it is the demise of our culture. No matter what your opinion, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are still going strong.

At Project B3, we know how vitally important it is for the next generation to learn how to safely navigate social media apps and the Internet. We work with kids and teens almost every day and hear why they love social media.  For many preteens and teens it offers friendships, a sense of community, a creative outlet and an easy way to stay in touch. Often, young people are able to meet others that they never would have met if it weren’t for social media. Whether it’s Snapchat, Insta or TikTok kids love using social media and we love hearing all the positive ways they are using it.

We also discuss not-so-fun scenarios and experiences. The students tell us what they’ve seen and read online and we talk about appropriate ways they could possibly respond. One of our goals is to have the students walk away from Project B3 feeling empowered and better able to handle different, sometimes difficult situations that they may encounter online.

That’s why, when we came across this real-life Snapchat Hero story- we had to share it. This brave 11-year-old boy did everything right in a very scary, very critical situation.

ABCnews reported that, “Soon to be 12-year-old Gabe Rongier from Pennsylvania befriended a young girl living in Texas via Snapchat. The girl had become part of a Snapchat group with Gabe and his friends from school.

Lori Rongier, Gabe’s mother, was out running errands when she received a panicked text from her son explaining that a friend of his had sent him distressing messages on Snapchat that made him scared and he was worried for her.

Lori was leery, wondering if this person and messages from across the country were real. She and her husband Fred thought someone may be playing a joke. Both parents advised their son not to call authorities.

However, Gabe truly felt that he needed to take action, and not knowing exactly who to contact, he called a suicide hotline number.

The hotline then connected Gabe with local authorities, and by the time Lori got home, Gabe was already on the phone with the Grand Saline Police Department.

Officers were then able to take action. With a little investigation, police were able to track down the girl and get her the help she needed.”

Lori said she and her husband are so thankful Gabe followed his intuition and heart. “Most parents want their kids to listen to them, we’re grateful he didn’t listen and trusted his instincts,” she told ABC.

“The Grand Saline Police Department sent Gabe a letter thanking him for what he did for his friend, saying they could not have done their job without his help.

“It takes a big man to do what you did,” Grand Saline K9 Officer Chandler wrote to Gabe. The police department included a police patch and ‘challenge coin’ in their appreciation package to Gabe.

“It’s reassuring to know there are kids out there like Gabe, that go out of their way to help someone else, and through his actions showed bravery and heroism, and we are all very proud of him at the Grand Police Department,” Jeremy Barker, the department’s public safety director said in an interview with ABC News.

What can we say? Snapchat connected friends. A girl reached out to a friend when she needed help. A very young boy followed his instincts, called a suicide hotline and was able to get the authorities involved to save a friend’s life. The latest report we could find stated that the Texas girl is doing well. All thanks to a friend in Pennsylvania who followed his gut and took action.